Upbeat personality could reduce risk of diabetes, study finds

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A positive attitude can make life more pleasant. And a new study says it may also make it more healthful. Specifically, researchers say an upbeat personality may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Personality traits remain stable across one’s lifetime; therefore, women at higher risk for diabetes who have low optimism, high negativity, and hostility could have prevention strategies tailored to their personality types,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

“In addition to using personality traits to help us identify women at higher risk for developing diabetes, more individualized education and treatment strategies also should be used,” she said.

The study was based on data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and are published online today in Menopause, the NAMS journal. The study looked at nearly 140,000 women for 14 years. They were all free of diabetes when data-gathering began but nearly 20,000 developed the disease during the 14-year period.

Researchers said that women who were the most optimistic had a 12% lower risk of diabetes, compared with women who were the least optimistic.

That may seem surprising but a growing body of evidence suggests that depression and cynicism are somehow linked with a higher risk of diabetes. There have, however, been few previous studies that looked specifically at whether a positive personality resulted in a lower risk.

Other, more well-known risk factors include obesity, genetics, race and ethnicity, and physical activity.

It’s a crucial issue, with diabetes afflicting more than 30 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population. Type 2 is the most common form, accounting for as much as 95% of diagnosed cases in adults.

About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.